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Bus company blames 'inconsiderate car parking' for hospital timetable changes

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: November 10, 2012

First bus
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Inconsiderate parkers have condemned the sick and elderly to walk hundreds of yards to the doors of West Mendip Community Hospital for treatment.

First Bus say they were forced to alter the timetable because people parking at the hospital were making it impossible for the bus to get onto the hospital site on time.

But Glastonbury’s county councillor said it took only three and half minutes for the number 29 bus to make its way on to the site and drop patients at the doors of the hospital.

He said the change had been made to save money and called it an attack on the elderly and frail.

He said he had spent the week lobbying First Bus to reverse the decision.

The changes to the timetable came into effect this week.

The bus now stops on Old Wells Road, just outside the hospital grounds, forcing patients to cross a road and car park before accessing the hospital.

“That’s fine for someone who is reasonably fit,” Councillor Gloak said.

“But if you’ve got a broken leg, or if you’re infirm, that distance will feel like miles.

“It is not just the residents of Glastonbury, but any one who needs to visit West Mendip Hospital and who lives on this route, who is going to be affected by the change.”

A spokesperson for First Bus said inconsiderate parking had been behind the change of route.

She said that some patients at the hospital had parked so badly it had blocked access to the entrance and caused delays along the rest of the route.

“We understand the concerns that Councillor Gloak has raised in response to the changes that were made to Service 29 and we have been in contact with him directly to discuss the matter with him,” the spokesperson said.

“The service was altered in an attempt to improve its overall punctuality and reliability.

“The service was experiencing problems keeping to time and as part of our responsibilities as bus operator we had to take steps to address this.

“Rather than alter the frequency of the entire route, a decision was taken to amend the route slightly instead, withdrawing the buses from the hospital grounds on the basis that customers could still get there using stops outside the grounds.

“This alteration also helped us deal some issues that we had experienced with buses struggling to get past parked cars in the grounds of the hospital.

“Having received some feedback regarding this though, we have agreed that we will review the decision and will discuss the matter further with Somerset County Council.”

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